The right to adequate housing that is safe, healthy, available and affordable is enshrined in the United Nation’s Habitat Agenda with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all (UN Habitat, 2001). Housing is a critical component in the social, economic and health fabric of every nation. Thus, governments around the world are duty- bound to ensure their citizens have access to suitable housing. The Oyo state government, led by Engr Seyi Makinde, is not left out.
Statistics estimate that Nigeria has a housing deficit of 28 million, and would need over N21 trillion to adequately bridge the gap. Despite the policies, organisations and regulations which different governments have put in place since independence in 1960, there is still a huge shortage of housing, especially for the low-income segment of the society.
With a rapidly-growing population of more than 200 million, which is estimated to hit 400 million by 2050, this deficit would more than double if nothing is done to stem it. In Oyo State, in particular, successive governments did not adequately prioritize housing for the people. The state has a robust and well-articulated housing policy in place. However, what has been sorely lacking is a committed leadership that can successfully drive the housing blueprint to fruition. Governor Seyi Makinde is providing that leadership.
One major policy direction of the Seyi Makinde-led administration in the state is not only to create an enabling environment for developers and other stakeholders to participate in the provision of houses, but also to participate actively in the delivery of well-planned housing estates within the Pacesetter state.
One of such estates where the state government has intervened in the provision of quality and conducive housing estate is the Ajoda New Town, along Ibadan- Ife express road in Egbeda local government area, through the Oyo State Housing Corporation, an agency which the governor has graciously committed to the supervision of his deputy, Barrister Bayo Lawal.
In the above capacity, Bayo Lawal has shone. He has turned the Oyo state housing corporation around, within two years, with his purposeful, impactful and go-getting leadership with the active support of his principal.
The Ajoda New Town is a housing initiative conceived by the then Military governor of Oyo State, Col. David Jemibewon in 1976, with the acquisition of over 5000 hectares of land and compensation duly paid to landowners. However, unfortunately, the project was grossly neglected, if not completely abandoned, for many years.
But then, entered Makinde and Bayo Lawal. Today, the Ajoda New Town is one of the most well-planned housing estates in Ibadan with over 1.8 kilometers of road completed and an additional 5.1 kilometers road network within the estate fully completed with drainage to service about 1000 plots. While Work is still ongoing with more standard roads and drainages under construction from the entrance of the estate.
To the credit of Barrister Bayo Lawal, he has been able to physically actualise the housing vision of governor Seyi Makinde through his laudable performance at the housing corporation. While he continues to ensure that standards are met at the new estate through regular on-the-spot assessments, supervision and monitoring, he also makes certain that the existing estates of the corporation are not left unattended.
“Mr Housing,” a sobriquet of Bayo Lawal by many who have come to appreciate his determination and doggedness in the pursuit for better housing environment for residents of the state. Lawal’s performance is a testament to governor Seyi Makinde’s uncanny ability to put a round peg in a round hole.
Though a lawyer by training, Bayo Lawal is a man of many competencies. One of them, as he has clearly demonstrated, is in the housing sector.
Little wonder he continues to receive accolades from housing, building and real estate professionals across board, though there are still much work to be done, Bayo Lawal’s efforts so far on Ajoda New Town is most commendable.
At the end of the day, when the legacies of the Makinde administration are reviewed in years to come, as it pertains to housing, the contribution of Barrister Bayo Lawal, via the Ajoda New Town, will certainly be a major reference point.
Omolere Omoetan is the Special Assistant Media to the Deputy Governor.